Oct 22, 2013

Split Frequency Retouching

Split Frequency Retouching

Aaron is off on the jungles of Peru right now, so we figured it would be the perfect time to flip the script and do some retouching using an image of him. Jamie Bayer who you met in yesterday’s episode is an awesome professional retoucher from here in Chicago, and she’s going to walk you through her workflow for doing split frequency retouching.

What is split frequency retouching?

Split Frequency editing focuses on two editing layers. The first is used to soften features and skin, the second is used to sharpen features. Another way to think of it is one layer controls the color information, and the other layer controls the line information.


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    Jon Robertson

    Just curious, is there a benefit to using the healing brush over a soft clones stamp brush? I use this same technique, but whenever I try the healing brush, it makes Photoshop run slower, and it also seems to not blend as well, leaving subtle banding. The clone brush seems to do the same thing and runs faster. I am doing something wrong with the healing brush?

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    I noticed that Jamie didn’t sharpen anything in Aaron’s photo (probably a esthetical call on her part). But it got me thinking, is there a “hierarchy” of processes that we should be mindful to do first, second, third, and . . . ??? Jamie’s touch-up process basically entailed softening and removing some of the details and then adjusting the color. Where would sharpening be best applied in the process (if one were to sharpen an area in the photo)?

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    I enjoyed this and seen many variations of the split frequency workflow at this point. However, my one question is why did you use Apply Image for the “line” frequencies rather than simply creating a high-pass layer on Overlay blend mode? Any advantage to using one way or the other?

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      Cause the high-pass isn’t accurate enough. You can check it making on that way and you’ll see the the image isn’t equal when you turn off those layers.

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    Sarp Abdullah Gültemiz

    facial lines, he noted.
    Sharpen the left, as was the trail. Aaron, your brother seems to stain.
    O lines, the stain sits on the clone tool
    Do not get me wrong, I am in favor of speaking the truth. Criticisms getting the job properly built. It made ??me really retouching, frustration was kept alive.
    with all respect
    Actor / Photography
    S. Abdullah Gültemiz

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    Zietse Bob

    Hi Jamie,

    That was a great tutorial, many thanks. Have learned a lot from Aaron over the last years (only fitting you chose a picture from him to edit), but really enjoyed the way you stepped to the plate. Awesome (phlearn-speak) that you were willing to share your (obviously vast) experience with us. Seems like a useful technique to avoid getting black smudges under the eyes when trying to take a few years of your subject. Love the way it has a dramatic effect, yet remains utterly natural and believable!

    Will we be seeing more of your tips and tricks in the future?


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    Jacob Benjamin Taylor

    The one thing I run into is light facial hair. I’ve asked models and MUAs to address the hair with waxing and shaving before the shoot but occasionally someone flubs and I end up with a girl that is all peach fuzz. Any ideas on fixes for that in post?

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    Sehmuz Bayhan

    Unfortunately Jamie’s presentation was not in par with Aaron’s. She did not clearly explain what the benefit of split frequency is, and the settings she showed apply image was for 8bit images, at least she should have mentioned that the Apply image settings are different for 16 bit images. The multiple of 3 reference in blur process is not necessary if you are using an Apply Image method to create HIGH layer as well.
    Layers she put on top of the split frequency to smooth the colors should have been done on top of the LOW layer, this way you do not need to create noise to bring back the texture. Also with a simple brightness contrast layer clipped to the HIGH layer you can sharpen or soften the image texture.
    Overall there is a different way to achieve the same result, but if this is a split frequency tutorial Jamie should focus on the split frequency and really show the power of it.

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    Ed Gately

    I enjoyed watching your workflow. Thank you for the post!

    For clarification.. the apply image options used in the video are I believe only for 8bit images. I use Invert Checked, Add Mode, Scale 2 and Offset 0 for 16 bit images.

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    Bodo Brochterbeck

    While otherwise a great tutorial, Jamie seems to miss the whole point of frequency separation.

    With frequency separation you can keep (and completely control!) those fine structures (pores, little facial hair, etc.) and smooth out the deeper structues of skin (low frequency). Therefore, it is not neccessary to introduce structure by adding noise! It’s simply a contradiction to the whole concept.
    The advantage of frequency separation is to keep a natural structure while smoothing at the same time without the need to introduce artificial skin (noise).

    As other commentators mentioned I also would recommend a hard clonestamp at 100% opacity to work on the high frequency layer.

    Examples of keeping pores, fine hair while reducing wrinkles and smoothing out deep structures: